The Bucs may not be mailing it in, but their fans are

Rick Stroud | The 34-17 loss to the Saints sparked a flurry of fury among e-mailing Bucs fans
Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans lament the team's (so far) losing season during the fourth quarter of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, November 17, 2019, in Tampa.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans lament the team's (so far) losing season during the fourth quarter of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints at Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, November 17, 2019, in Tampa. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Nov. 23, 2019

TAMPA — It’s been a minute since I started covering the Bucs. During that time, technology has changed with the explosion of social media. Communication with readers is virtually non-stop.

But for whatever reason, the Bucs’ 34-17 loss to the Saints last Sunday sparked some extra-level outrage among Tampa Bay fans.

Interestingly, a lot of it filled my mailbox, especially the day after the game.

Much of the ire, as usual, was aimed at quarterback Jameis Winston, who threw four interceptions. The first one clearly wasn’t his fault as tight end O.J. Howard took his eyes off the football, lost it behind his back until he was blasted and the pass was picked.

Howard’s lack of focus this season is a story. But judging on the emails, so is the “horrible,’ offensive line, the Glazers, comparisons of Winston to Vinny Testaverde and the like.

You can’t have enough pen pals, so thanks to all who took the time to write.

With the Bucs at 3-7 headed to play the Falcons in Atlanta, it seemed like a good time to share a sample of my mail. My replies are in bold.

Laying it on the line

I’m not a Winston fan (was, but not anymore) and that’s not why I point this out. The offensive line was horrible yesterday and I was surprised to see that no writer made mention of their poor play in (Monday’s) paper. And with some pretty high-priced guys on the offensive line, they should be way better.

L. David Smith

You were spot on. Twice, center Ryan Jensen snapped the football to Winston when he hadn’t called for it. He couldn’t hear the snap count in his own stadium because of the noise from the south end zone filled with black and gold Saints fans enjoying Mardi Gras. Guess you can’t blame them for expecting crowd noise at Raymond James Stadium when they drew about 40,000 to the Cardinals game a week earlier.

Embarrass them like they embarrass us

I have lived in Tampa Bay now for 27 years. I am always glad to cheer for the Rays. They are a great time and organization. There is only one way to fix the hapless Succaneers. Boycott the team and the stadium. The money-sucking Glazers reap all the benefits from the stupid fans that keep going to the games. Embarrass the team just like they embarrass us each week. Let Debartolo have the team and you will get winners.

Bob Biddle, Pasco County

The empty seats would indicate many fans have taken your advice. Then again, nobody is going to Rays games, either and they won 97 games while pushing the Astros to five games in the American League divisional playoff. Fans did come to the Trop for the playoffs, something that hasn’t happened for the Bucs since 2007.

What happened to Arians’ concern

If you remember correctly Bruce Arians said after that horrible outing that Winston had five interceptions and one or two fumbles, “if it happens again, it would concern the hell out of me.” Four interceptions is pretty close to five. Arians should not have to defend a veteran quarterback every Sunday. That is something you do for a rookie or sophomore quarterback to protect his confidence. We need New Hope (sic) at quarterback next season.

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Joe Curtain

By my count four interceptions is one short of five. Winston has 18 already, tying for the most he’s ever had in a season. I’m not sure who New Hope is, but the scouts will take a look at him.

Time to give Winston a chance

(Monday’s) piece was dead on except I also think Arians is just trying to protect his job, not Winston. He should have played Ryan Griffin, especially with (Winston’s) sprained ankle. Enough is just too much, time to give Winston a chance elsewhere. I remember the Testaverde era and I recall he did better elsewhere. Winston needs to move on, there are some good men on this team that deserve better.

Diane Flanagan,

I talked to a coach who said he wishes they had played Griffin once Winston got hurt, if only to give him his first regular-season NFL snap on his 30th birthday. The NFL’s Moonlight Graham awaits his turn. Arians has his own math. I hope he’s in the car the next time I get a speeding ticket.

About those great practices

I heard your remark this morning that Arians says every day the Bucs have had a great practice and it seems like they never have a bad practice. What you failed to mention is they are practicing against the Bucs so even the Bucs can have a great practice against themselves.

Reed Smith

Hmmm. I never thought about that. But it happened again this week. Not one bad practice. Now if they could play that well against another team, right?

Contact Rick Stroud at Follow @NFLStroud